Bulletin N° 846
All is Quiet on the Western Front
The Road Back
Based on the 1928 & 1930 novels by Erich Maria Remarque
Any 4-Profit Enterprise against the Public’s Interest is a Conspiracy, by definition (and the idea of a conspiracy against all conspiracies is an oxymoron).
22 May 2019
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Studying history can be a humbling experience. You learn that nothing lasts forever, that particular social and political continuities are periodically punctuated with abrupt ruptures, and that from hindsight these specific discontinuities are usually found to have originated from contradictions which were hardly noticeable before the implosion that they caused and the change in course that ensued. Ideological actors have attempted from time to time to take control of historical developments in their day, but the results are never completely satisfactory; their efforts more often than not fall far short of their expectations.
Capitalism is war.
The imperative of capitalist exploitation and expansion requires one continuous campaign of conquest and domination at every level. Class warfare and imperialist wars are historically inseparable parts of the same whole, the flip sides of the capitalist coin.
It was with this in mind that I recently picked up an old copy of the 1932 Novel by Ferdinand Céline (1894-1961), Voyage au bout de la nuit, and began reading his story, which starts with an autobiographical description of his experiences as a young man during the First World War. Céline - the self-proclaimed lecher, misanthrope, coward, anti-Semite, and Fascist sympathizer – captured in his first novel the degenerate effect of violence on a society at war. He had the genius of seeing the worst in every person he described. The author’s character in this novel has been declared “a failure as a human being,” - a full-blown product of the culture of death - but his eloquence served to save him from total destruction more than once. With the cynical, self-serving use of clichés and pandering to conceits, he extracted himself from near-fatal situations again and again. In this culture of death, he learned to despise himself as much as the people whom he encountered; he seems to have made the Faustian bargain of taking possession of the Archimedean principle on the condition that he use it against himself.
Barely twenty years old and faced with the terrifying industrial-scale “slaughterhouse” of World War I, Celine’s young protagonist, Bardamu, quickly loses his innocence and learns that: “Men are the thing to be afraid of, always, men and nothing else.”
People waste a large part of their youth in stupid mistakes. It was obvious that my darling was going to leave me, flat and soon. I hadn’t found out yet that mankind consists of two very different races, the rich and the poor. It took me, and plenty of other people, twenty years and the war to learn to stick to my class and ask the price of things before touching them, let alone setting my heart on them.
So as I warmed myself in the pantry with the servants, I was unaware that the people dancing over my head were Argentine gods – they could have been Germen, French or Chinese, that didn’t mean a thing, the point was that they were gods, rich people, that’s what I should have realized. Them upstairs with Musyne, me downstairs with nothing. Musyne was thinking seriously of her future, and naturally she preferred to do that kind of thinking with a god. I too was thinking of my future, but in a kind of delirium, because my constant companion was a muted fear of being killed in the war or of starving when peace came. I had a death sentence hanging over me, and I was in live. A nightmare, to put it mildly. Not far away, less than a hundred kilometers, millions of brave, well-armed, well-trained men were waiting to settle my hash, and plenty of Frenchmen were waiting, too, to pump me full of lead if I declined to be cut into bleeding ribbons by the opposite side.
A poor man in this world can be done to death in two ways, by the absolute indifference of his fellows in peacetime or by their homicidal mania when there’s a war. When other people start thinking about you, it’s to figure out how to torture you, that and noting else. The bustards want to see you bleeding, otherwise they’re not interested. Princhard was dead right. In the shadow of the slaughterhouse, you don’t speculate very much about your future, you think about loving in the days you have left, because there’s no other way of forgetting your body that’s about to be skinned alive.
Since Musyne was slipping away from me, I took myself for an idealist, which is the name we give to our little instincts clothed in high-sounding words. My leave was drawing to an end. The newspapers were summoning every conceivable combatant to the colours, first of all, it goes without saying, the ones without connections. An official order had gone out that no one should think of anything but winning the war.(Voyage au bout de la nuit, English edition, trans. by Ralph Manheim in 1988, pp.68-69)
. . .
When grown older, we look back on the selfishness of the people who’ve been mixed up with our lives, we see it undeniably for what it was, as hard as steel or platinum and a lot more durable than time itself.
As long as we’re young, we manage to find excuses for the stoniest indifference, the most blatant caddishness, we put them down to emotional eccentricity or some sort of romantic inexperience. But later on, when life shows us how much cunning, cruelty and malice are required just to keep the body at thirty-seven degrees, we catch on, we know the score, we begin to understand how much swinishness it takes to make up a past. Just take a close look at yourself and the degree of rottenness you’ve come to. There’s no mystery about it, no room for fairy tales; if you’ve lived this long, it’s because you’ve squashed any poetry you had in you. Life is keeping body and soul together.(pp.173-174)
Soon after his reluctant return to the front lines, Bardamu was deemed unfit for military service and was discharged. He had learned from the battlefield that human life has no more value than a fart!
The army finally dropped me. I’d saved my guts, but my brains were scrambled for good. Undeniably. “Beat it . . . .” they said; “You’re no good for anything anymore!. . ..”
“To Africa!” I said to myself. “The further the better!” The ship that took me on board was a ship like any other, Consolidated Corsairs, that was the line. It was bound for the tropics with a cargo of cotton goods, officers and civil servants.
. . .
But as soon as we’d passed the coast of Portugal, things started going bad. One morning we woke up in the midst of a steam bath, pervasive and alarming. The water in our glasses, the sea, the air, our sheets, our sweat, everything was hot, sultry. From then on, by night and day, it was impossible to have anything cool in our hands, under your arse or in your throat, except the ice from the bar in your whisky. A dull despair descended on the passengers of the Admiral Bragueton, condemned to sit permanently in the bar, held fast by little pieces of ice, exchanging threats and incoherent apologies after their card games.
It didn’t take long. In that despondent, changeless heat the entire human content of the ship congealed into massive drunkenness. People moved flabbily about like squid in a tank of tepid, smelly water. From that moment on we saw, rising to the surface, the terrifying nature of white men, exasperated, freed from constraint, absolutely unbuttoned, their true nature, same as in the war. That tropical steam bath called forth instincts as August breeds toads and snakes on the fissured walls of prisons. In the European cold, under gray, puritanical northern skies, we seldom get to see our brothers’’ festering cruelty except in times of carnage, but when roused by the foul fevers of the tropics, their rottenness rises to the surface. That’s when the frantic unbuttoning sets in, when filth triumphs and covers us entirely. It’s a biological confession. Once work and cold weather ceases to constrain us, once they relax their grip, the white man shows you the same spectacle as a beautiful beach when the tide goes out: the truth, fetid ponds, crabs, carrion and turds.
Once we had passed Portugal, everybody on board started unleashing his instincts, ferociously; alcohol helped and so did the blissful feeling conferred, especially on soldiers and civil servants, by the knowledge that the trip was absolutely free of charge. The knowledge that for four consecutive weeks their bed, board and liquor won’t cost a thing is in itself enough to make most people delirious with thrift. Consequently, when it became known that, alone of all the ship’s passengers, I had paid my own fare, I was looked upon as a shameless and intolerable swine.
If on leaving Marseille I had had some experience of colonial society, I would have gone down on my knees and begged the pardon and indulgence of the colonial infantry officer I kept running into, the highest in rank of those on board, for my unworthiness, and perhaps for safety’s sake, I’d also have humbled myself before the senior civil servant. Then those phantasmagorical passengers might have tolerated my presence in their midst and nothing would have happened. But I was ignorant, and my foolhardiness in supposing that I was entitled to breath the same air as they almost cost me my life.
One can never be too anxious. Thanks to a certain ingenuity, I lost nothing but what self-respect I had left. This is what happened. . . .
. . .
It can't be denied, the boredom on a ship is something unbelievable; to tell the truth, it’s cosmic. It fills the sea, the ship, the heavens. It’s enough to unhinge the soundest of minds, so what you expect of those chimerical deadheads?
A sacrifice! And I was the victim. Things came to a head one evening after dinner, at which, ravaged by hunger, I had put in an appearance. I bent over my plate and didn’t budge, I didn’t even dare to take out my handkerchief to wipe the sweat off my brow. Nobody had ever eaten his dinner more discreetly. From the engines a faint, continuous vibration rose up under my behind. . . . The atmosphere became intensely furtive and strained.
I jumped up and ran, hoping to take refuge in my cabin. I had almost reached it when one of the colonial officers, the chestiest and most muscular of the lot, barred my way, without violence but firmly. “Suppose we go up on deck!” he enjoined me. We had only a few steps to go. For the occasion he was wearing his cap, the one with the most gold braid, and he had fastened his buttons from collar to fly, something he hadn’t done since our departure. So this was to be a full-dress dramatic ceremony! A tight spot for me, my heart was pounding on a level with my belly button.
This preamble, this abnormal full dress made me foresee a slow and painful execution. That officer looked to me like a chuck of the war, obstinate, inexorable, murderous, which someone had suddenly plunked down in front of me.
Behind him, blocking the doorway, appeared four junior officers, vigilant in the extreme, the escort of doom.
Flight was impossible. The speech that followed must have been carefully rehearsed. “Sir, you have before you Captain Frémizon of the colonial army! In the name of my comrades in arms and of the passengers on this ship, who are justly indignant of your unspeakable behavior, I have the honor to demand an explanation! ... Certain remarks you have made about us since we left Marseille are intolerable! … If you have any grievances, sir, the time has come to state them out loud! … to proclaim audibly what you have been saying in a shameful undertone for the last twenty-one days! To tell us at last what you think …”
On hearing these words I was very much relieved. I had feared some sudden death blow impossible to parry, but in talking, the Major was offering me a way out. Any possibility of cowardice becomes a glowing hope if you’re not a fool. That’s my opinion. Never be picky and choosy about the means of escaping disembowelment, or waste your time trying to find reasons for the persecution you’re a victim of. Escape is good enough for the wise.
“Capitan!” I replied, putting into my voice all the conviction of which I was capable under the circumstances. “What an extraordinary mistake you are in danger of making! You! Me! How can you think me capable of such ignominious sentiments? How monstrously unjust! Indeed it is more than I can bear! When only yesterday I was fighting for our beloved country! When over the years my blood has mingled with yours in innumerable battles! Oh, Captain, sir, how could you think of crushing me beneath such an injustice?”
The, addressing the whole group:
“What abominable slander has abused you, gentlemen? Leading you to imagine that I, to all intents and purposes your brother, would dream of spreading foul calumnies about heroic offices! This is too much! Really too much! And I went on: “Oh for such a thing to happen at the very moment when these heroes, these incomparable heroes, are preparing to resume, with what courage I need not say, their sacred duty of safeguarding our immortal colonial empire! Where the most glorious soldiers of our raced have covered themselves with eternal glory. The Mangins! The Faidherbes! The Gallienis! … Oh, Captain! To suspect me! of this!”
At this point I pulled up short. I hoped my silence would impress them. Luckily it did for a moment. Thereupon, without delay, taking advantage of the mumbling armistice, I went straight up to the Captain and, in an access of emotion, gripped both his hands
With his hands enclosed in mine I felt fairly safe. Still clasping them. I continued, as volubly as ever, and while assuring him that he was right, a thousand times right, suggested that we make a fresh start, but get our signals straight this time! This unbelievable misunderstanding, I assured him, had been brought about by my stupid though natural timidity! I admitted that my behaviour could reasonably have been interpreted as unconscionable distain by the ladies and gentlemen present, these “heroes and charmers… this providential conclave of astounding characters and talents… Not forgetting the incomparably musical ladies, the ornaments of our good ship!...” After making this profuse and elaborate apology, I implored them to admit me without delay or restriction to their joyous patriotic brotherhood… in which I hoped, now and forever, to cut an admirable figure. And of course without releasing the Major’s hands, I redoubled my eloquence.
As long as a soldier isn’t killing, he’s a child and easily amused. Since he is not in the habit of thinking, it costs him a crushing effort to understand when spoken to. Captain Frémozon wasn’t killing me, he wasn’t drinking and he wasn’t doing anything with his hands or feet. He was only trying to think. For him that was much too much. In short, I’d caught him by the head.
Gradually, during this ordeal by humiliation, I felt my self-respect weakening, weakening a little more, seeping away, and finally abandoning me completely – officially as it were. Say, what you please, that’s a beautiful moment. After that incident I became infinitely light and free, morally speaking of course. Fear is probably, more often than not, the best means of getting you out of a tight spot. Since that day I’ve never felt the need of any other weapons, or virtues for that matter.
The captain couldn’t make up his mind, and his friends, who had come there expressly to wipe up my blood and play knucklebones with my dispersed teeth, had to content themselves with catching words in mid-air. The civilians who had come rushing, tingling with eagerness at the news of an impending corrida, were looking very dangerous. Since I didn’t know exactly what I was talking about, but only that I’d better keep it lyrical at all costs, I held on to the captain’s hands and stared at an imaginary point in the cottony fog through which the Admiral Bragueton was making its way, puffing and spitting form one turn of the propeller to the next. Finally, to wind up my harangue, I ventured to raise one arm above my head, releasing one of the Captain’s hands, but only one, and flung myself into peroration: “Gentlemen, aren’t we all agreed that brave men will always come to an understanding in the end? So damn it all, vive la France! Vive la France!” That was Sargent Branledore’s gimmick. And once again it worked. That was the only time France ever saved my life, otherwise the opposite has been closer to the truth. I observed a moment’s hesitation in my audience – after all, it’s hard for an officer, however ill-disposed, to strike a civilian who has just shouted “Vive la France!” as loud as I had. That hesitation saved me.
I reached into the group of officers, grabbed two arms at random and invited everybody to come to the bar and drink to my health and our reconciliation. The heroes resisted for barely a minute, and then we drank for two hours. But the females, silent and increasingly disappointed, kept their eyes on us. Through the portholes of the bar I saw the obstinate schoolteacher-pianist prowling like a hyena, surrounded by other females. The bitches had a strong suspicion that I’d conned myself out of the trap, and were determined to nab me at the next turn. Meanwhile, men among men, we went on drinking under the useless abut stultifying electric fan, which since the Canaries had been wearing itself out churning the tepid, cottony atmosphere. Still, I had to keep up my verve and spout the kind of talk, nothing too difficult, that would appeal to my new friends. For fear of putting my foot in it, I overflowed with patriotic admiration, and kept asking those heroes, one after another, for stories and more stories of colonial feats of arms. War stories, like dirty stories, appeal to the military of all counties. The best way to make a sort of peace, a fragile armistice to be sure, but precious all the same, with men, officers or not, is to let them bask and wallow in childish self-glorification. There’s no such thing as intelligent vanity. It’s an instinct. And you’ll never find a man who is not first and foremost vain. The role of admiring doormat is about the only one that one man is glad to tolerate in another. With these soldiers I had no need to tax my imagination. It was enough to appear impressed. It’s easy to ask for more and more war stories. Those boys were crammed full of them. It was like the good old hospital days. After each story I made sure to express my approbation, as Branledore had taught me, with a glowing phrase: “Splendid! Why, that deserves to go down in history!” There’s a formula that can’t be beat! Little by little, the group I had wormed my way into decided that I was all right. They started telling the same kind of cock-and-bull war stories as I had heard in the old days and later dished out myself in imagination contests with my pals in the hospital. Except their setting was different: their fairy tales happened in the jungles of the Congo instead of the Vosges or Flanders.
Once Captain Frémizon, the one who a moment before had volunteered to purge the ship of my putrid presence, perceived that I listened more attentively than anyone else, he began to give me credit for no end of delightful qualities. His arterial flux seemed attenuated by the effect of my original praises, his vision cleared, his bloodshot, alcoholic eyes even began to sparkle despite his besotted state, and the sprinkling of doubts about his own worth, which he had somehow conceive deep within him and which assailed him in times of extreme depression, were for a time adorably dissipated by the miraculous effect of my intelligent and pertinent comments.
No doubt about it, I was a creator of euphoria! I had them slapping their thighs for all they were wroth! I alone knew how to make life worth living in spite of the agonizing humidity! Wasn’t I the most inspired of listeners?
As we were thus shooting the shit, the Admiral Bragueton began to slow down, she seemed to be making hardly any headway, not an atom of breeze around us, we must have been skirting the coast, moving as sluggishly as if the sea had been molasses.
The sky above us was molasses too, a black, viscous mass that I eyed hungrily, I’d have liked best to get back into the night, even sweating and groaning, no matter how! Frémizon went on and on with his stories, I had the impression that land was near, but my plan for escape filled me with alarm… Gradually our conversation ceased to be military and became first ribald, then frankly filthy, and in the end so incoherent that it was hard to keep it going. One after another of the company gave up and fell asleep, crushed under the weight of their snores, a nasty kind of sleep that scraped the caverns of their noses. That was the time to get away. One must never miss up on the remission of cruelty that nature manages to impose on the most vicious and aggressive of this world’s organisms.
By then we were anchored a short distance from the coast. All we could see of the shore was some lanterns moving back and forth.
Very quickly a hundred bobbing canoes full of screeching black men came crowding around the ship. There were black men all over the decks, offering their services. In a few seconds I carried the few bundles I had done up in secret to the gangway and slipped down it behind one of the boatmen, whose features and movements were almost entirely hidden form me by the darkness. At the bottom of the steps, on a level with the splashing water, I wondered anxiously where we were going.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“At Bambola-Fort-Gono!” the shadow answered.
We pushed off and paddled hard. To make us go faster. I helped him.
I had time to get one last look at my menacing fellow passengers. In the light of the cabin lamps, laid low by apathy and gastritis, they grunted and fermented in their sleep. Bloated and sprawling, they all looked alike now, officers, civil servants, engineers and traders, primly, potbellied and swarthy, intermingled and more or less identical. Dogs look like wolves when they’re asleep.
A few moments later I was back on land. Under the trees the night was thicker than ever, and behind the night lay all the complicities of silence.(pp.99-104)
After recounting this near-death encounter with a group of colonial elite on a ship returning to French Africa, Bardamu enters into the interior and seeks necessary employment. The abject poverty around him – except for military and administrative colonial personnel – made the hospital seem attractive. He contemplates intentionally getting sick and entering as a patient to eventually be sent home, despite the war:
Depressing as the hospital was, it was the only place in the whole colony where you could feel forgotten, safe form the people outside, the bosses. A vacation from slavery, that was the main thing, anyway the only happiness within my reach.(p.121)
. . .
That’s the way it goes. You can’t deny it, men have a hard time doing all that’s demanded of them: butterflies in their youth, maggots at the end.(p.122)
Eventually, he finds a position in a remote, half-forgotten, trading station, where the existing director has proven himself unreliable. From this isolated forest settlement, Céline describes the most stunning beauty:
The sunsets in that African hell proved to be fabulous. They were never missed. As tragic every time as a monumental murder of the sun! But the marvel was too great for one man alone. For a whole hour the sky paraded in great delirious spurts of scarlet from end to end; after that the green of the trees exploded and rose up in quivering trails to meet the first stars. Then the while horizon turned grey again and then red, but this time a tired red that didn’t last long. That was the end. All the colours fell back down on the forest in tatters, like streamers after the hundredth performance. It happened every day at exactly six o’clock.
Then the night set in with all its monsters and its thousands and thousands of croaking toads.
The forest is only waiting for their signal to start trembling, hissing and roaring from its depths. An enormous, love-maddened, unlit railway station, full to bursting. While trees bristling with living noisemakers, mutilated erections, horror. After a while we couldn’t hear each other talk in the hut. I had to hoot across the table like a barn owl for my companion to understand me. I was getting my money’s worth. And remember, I didn’t like the country.(pp.140-141)
And like his war experiences in France, the scenes of wretched horror became assimilated as routine:
The hunt in these parts didn’t yield much, and at least one grandmother a week was eaten for want of gazelles.(p.126)
Soon, Bardamu becomes delirious in his isolation and somehow he finds himself departed from Africa, arriving soon after, by a slave-driven galley ship, in New York City Harbor, carrying with him the disabling self-hatred that had taught him how to cope with the most barbaric contradictions western civilization can possibly produce - at an enormous personal cost to himself. Today, in our environment of perpetual war, Céline’s protagonist in Voyage au bout de la nuit, appears to be a character sketch of “Everyman” (and every woman), the product of a vicious dog-eat-dog society enshrouded in our disgustingly hypocritical imperialist culture, where the norm is exploitation and alienation and, where left-right collaboration quickly leads from a marriage of convenience - temporary tactics for survival - to wholesale mass destruction of “the other” for security reasons, accompanied by the necessary ideological adjustments.
The 20 + items below offer readers the opportunity to examine the disillusionment and wholesale devaluation of human life in a society at war. No matter how many kilometers away it is raging, no matter what precautions we take to avoid thinking about it, the brutalizing affects are inescapable. We silently grow accustom to this change, repressing its effect on us, not wanting to notice it, but when the facts are called to our attention our instinctive response is predictably violent. We simply don’t want to deal with it, although it continuously governs our lives in a subterranean fashion.
Professor emeritus of American Studies
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
Forget the war on terror: global military has been
engaged in a decades-long campaign to find chemicals that can control the mind,
and 50 years after their first experiments it seems the battlefield of the
brain is once again front and centre, writes Rak Razam...
According to the US Centre for Strategic Command, the US is presently engaged in a campaign of "Full Spectrum Dominance" in all fields of existence – land, water, space, cyberspace, etc. – and now the realm of the mind itself. Yet the military's interest in psychoactives has been long and sustained. During the height of WWII the OSS, the wartime precursor to the CIA, began the search for a truth serum they could use in intelligence interrogations. In 1945 the US Navy Technical Mission reported that Nazi scientists experimented with mescaline on subjects at the Dachau concentration camp. After the war the U.S. Navy began investigating mescaline itself under the guise of Project Chatter, and for the next three decades they engaged in experiments with mind-altering drugs in an attempt to crack the secrets of the brain.
A 1994 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office says that between 1940 and 1974, the American Department of Defense and other national security agencies experimented on thousands of people with mind-altering substances. The CIA reportedly gave hallucinogens to "volunteer" soldiers in 149 projects throughout the 50s and 60s. Most of these experiments were part of the MK-ULTRA program, which was formed to counter supposed Communist advances in brainwashing on U.S. prisoners of war in Korea, as later dramatised in the film ‘The Manchurian Candidate’. The Army was largely interested in using LSD as an incapacitating agent to disable enemy troops without bloodshed, but a bizarre culture of acid experimentation soon ensued as the game got out of control.
There's a video on YouTube: "LSD Military Experiment", which shows LSD being given to British troops in the 1950s. Around 25 minutes after ingestion signs of the drug become apparent. Whilst on a mock military exercise the men begin to relax and giggle, while others start to trip out. After 35 minutes the radio operator takes off his communications backpack and looks around with a huge grin. The efficiency of the rocket launcher is also under some doubt, and "ten minutes later the attacking section had lost all sense of urgency" the narrator decries. As well trained military soldiers roll around in fits of laughter and climb trees, the true power of the mind-altering drug becomes suddenly became apparent: here is something that can undermine the nature of the war machine itself.
with Gore Vidal
“What is it that Manning and Assange
are being persecuted for? Revealing the truth!”
‘I'd rather starve to death’:
Manning jailed again for refusing to testify against WikiLeaks
Chelsea Manning refuses to testify in investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, sent back to jail for contempt
Chelsea Manning sent back to jail after refusing to testify to jury probing WikiLeaks
by David Maclean
Tulsi Gabbard would drop charges against Assange & Snowden
“Peter Ford, former UK Ambassador, praises Wikileaks on the immensity of the revelations revealed”
Whistleblower’s Arrest Shows Even “Secure” Platforms
by Bill Blunden
The recent indictment of former intelligence analyst Daniel Hale offers a cautionary tale to future whistleblowers. In the process of leaking dozens of classified documents to the press, Hale followed the same canned advice that’s been repeated by Edward Snowden and countless other privacy advocates: it’s all about onion routing and strong encryption. For example, Hale used a bootable thumb drive loaded with the ostensibly secure Tails operating system. To communicate with reporters, he employed an encrypted messaging platform.
But his security measures were to no avail. Hale has been arrested and charged under the Espionage Act. He is the third such whistleblower, behind Terry Albury and Reality Winner, to have been snared by the authorities after leaking documents to The Intercept. These cases are a potent reminder that while reporters may be shielded by First Amendment protections, their sources are not.
Future whistleblowers should recognize that disclosing official secrets is a veritable minefield. Using an app which is branded as “secure” to communicate with high-profile reporters will make the corresponding network traffic stand out like a glow stick to security services. Hale, in particular, also made the flagrant mistake of printing out documents that were unrelated to his job function. There’s a whole market segment of insider threat tools that are specifically designed to detect this sort of activity.
One Month in Belmarsh: 29th Vigil for Julian Assange
‘Dangerous Precedent’: Turnover of Assange’s Personal Effects Shows US’ Power
For the Latest News on WikiLeaks Watch the 30th Online Vigil
with Elizabeth Vos
(May 18, 2019)
Host Elizabeth Vos led a discussion with author George Szamuely on Chelsea Manning returning to prison; Sweden reopening its case against Assange and the other big headlines of the week.
Paul Craig Roberts Interview Julian Assange Arrest, Brexit, Venezuela
with Paul Craig Roberts
Assange revolutionized journalism, and the elite will never forgive him
« Tout le monde voulait échapper aux forces de l’ordre » :
comment la machine policière a brisé la manif du 1er mai
par Thomas Clerget
Selon les autorités, une partie des manifestants auraient « volé » le défilé du 1er mai à Paris. Depuis le cortège, et à écouter les témoignages, c’est un autre tableau qui se dessine. Au niveau de la Pitié-Salpêtrière et sur le boulevard Saint-Marcel, des milliers de personnes de tous âges ont été contenues dans une immense nasse, progressivement refermée à coups de matraques et de lacrymogènes. Une partie d’entre-elles ont dû se réfugier dans les halls d’immeubles pour éviter l’écrasement et la suffocation. Fidèles aux consignes données, les forces de l’ordre ont fait preuve d’une agressivité qui, loin de se limiter à ses adversaires déclarés, a brutalisé l’ensemble de la manifestation.
EN DIRECT - Gilets jaunes, acte 27 : de nouvelles manifestations
pour les six mois du mouvement
GILETS JAUNES : COMMENT RÉSISTER ?
- VRAIMENT POLITIQUE | Le Média
Now the French police are attacking disabled people
Yellow Vests protesters hit the streets of Paris 27th weekend in a row
-May 18, 2019
“France's 'yellow vests' mark six months of protests . . .”
Israel/America or Netanyahu/Trump?
by Kenneth Surin
The late Uri Avnery (1923-2018), the doughty Israeli seeker of peace with the Palestinian people, posted almost weekly on CounterPunch.
Avnery was savvy enough to know that the Zionist failure to achieve peace with the Palestinians meant that Israel could never be a “normal” state, no matter how much it pretended, hypocritically, to be a “democracy” adhering to “Western values”.
Avnery would have been aghast, but not surprised, at the turn of events taking place shortly before or after his death– Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (both Palestine and Israel claim Jerusalem as their capital, and it will take a peace deal, and not unilateral action on Israel’s part, in order resolve this dispute); closing down the Palestine Liberation Organisation office in Washington; reducing direct aid and aid to the UN agency aiding Palestinian refugees; recognizing Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights; and supporting Netanyahu in his recent pledge to begin annexing Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank.
The aid reductions involved cutting $200 million in direct aid to Gaza and the West Bank and the freezing of another $300 million dollars provided annually to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
After Ramadan, taking place currently, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will announce what Trump, with characteristic carnival-barker hyperbole, calls the “deal of the century”.
Leaks hint that Kushner will announce plans for significant investment in Gaza and the West Bank, provided by the Saudis and other Arab states– despots and in some cases murderers eager to cosy-up to Trump.
Kushner himself has touted “a very good business plan with a strong economic component for how Palestinians can move forward economically”, sheerly ignorant of the likelihood that an economic plan, no doubt with strings (or rather chains) attached, will fail if it is not accompanied by a lasting political solution. The latter will not exist as long as Israel persists in grabbing Palestinian land for its settlements, and subjecting its own Arab citizens to a form of apartheid. The US has so far fallen in line with all of this.
Kushner’s “deal” will almost certainly be belly-up on arrival. His father-in-law will of course blame the Palestinians for spurning such “gifts” and the accompanying chance for “peace”.
Trump’s administration recently prevented the BDS cofounder Omar Barghouti from entering the US to embark on a speaking tour, even though Barghouti has a valid US visa until 2021.
Barghouti, one of the founders of the BDS movement, is committed to non-violence, but his denial of entry was welcomed by many US Zionists eager to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-semitism.
Regarding Barghouti, the New York congressman Lee Zeldin, a Republican, tweeted: “This foreigner is filled w/anti-Israel & anti-Semitic hatred. We should reject Omar Barghouti’s hate, reject the BDS movement, & reject his many examples of blatant anti-Semitism”.
In February Barghouti was listed in a report—titled “terrorists in suits”– published by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The report describes BDS “as a complementary effort” to “armed attacks against the State of Israel”. Barghouti has however never been charged with a crime by Israel.
At least 27 states in the US have introduced laws to combat BDS activism. Earlier this year, the US Senate passed an anti-BDS billthat would allow state and city governments to terminate contracts with US entities that support the BDS movement.
Palestinian Authority No Longer Crying Wolf
Jonathan Cook reports on the bind that Netanyahu has created by withholding tax transfers as a reelection tactic.
We have been here many times before. However, on this occasion even the principal actors understand that the Palestinian Authority is not crying wolf as it warns of imminent collapse.
Keen to pander to hawkish public opinion in the run-up to last month’s election, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck a severe blow against Mahmoud Abbas and his government-in-permanent-waiting.
He announced that Israel would withhold a portion of the taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, and which it is obligated under the Oslo accords to pass on to the PA, based in the West Bank.
The Eurovision boycott row confirms it: Palestinian lives don’t matter
by Arwa Mahdawi
Madonna makes call for Israel-Palestine unity at Eurovision
by Ben Beaumont-Thomas
Iceland at Eurovision protests Israeli occupation of Palestine
A bloody weekend in Gaza
(May 13, 2019)
by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh
One million face hunger in Gaza after US cut to Palestine aid
by Jennifer Rankin
The ‘Deal of the Century’ condemns Palestinians to endless Apartheid
by Jeremy Wildeman and Emile Badarin
Tel Aviv is Afraid of the Axis of Resistance
by Tim Anderson
Please note the first two critical comments by readers on “Dancing Israelis” essays below :
Sent: Monday, May 20, 2019
Subject: Re: FW: A Capitalist Imperative: Why the Murders on 9/11-01? Why the Confessions nearly 20 years later?
9/11 denial is going off the edge…. Into paranoia and conspiracy theory not Marxism
From: Mark Crispin Miller
Sent: Monday, May 20, 2019 2:49 PM
Subject: Re: FW: A Capitalist Imperative: Why the Murders on 9/11-01? Why the Confessions nearly 20 years later?
Mossad's agents cannot possibly have been dumb enough to dance out in
the open like that. This incident was clearly staged, to deflect the blame away from
its true (US) authors onto "Israel." It was as patently theatrical as Lee Oswald's
showy distribution of pro-Castro flyers in the heart of New Orleans, some four
months before JFK's murder, for which Oswald took the blame.
On Mon, May 20, 2019 at 4:09 AM Francis Feeley wrote:
Newly Released FBI Docs Shed Light on Apparent Mossad Foreknowledge of 9/11 Attacks – by Whitney Webb.
(May 17, 2019)
The Dancing Israelis
Newly Released FBI Docs Shed Light
on Apparent Mossad Foreknowledge of 9/11 Attacks
by Whitney Webb
(May 17, 2019)
New information released by the FBI has brought fresh scrutiny to the possibility that the “Dancing Israelis,” at least two of whom were known Mossad operatives, had prior knowledge of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
NEW YORK, May 17, 2019 — For nearly two decades, one of the most overlooked and little known arrests made in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks was that of the so-called “High Fivers,” or the “Dancing Israelis.” However, new information released by the FBI on May 7 has brought fresh scrutiny to the possibility that the “Dancing Israelis,” at least two of whom were known Mossad operatives, had prior knowledge of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Shortly after 8:46 a.m. on the day of the attacks, just minutes after the first plane struck the World Trade Center, five men — later revealed to be Israeli nationals — had positioned themselves in the parking lot of the Doric Apartment Complex in Union City, New Jersey, where they were seen taking pictures and filming the attacks while also celebrating the destruction of the towers and “high fiving” each other. At least one eyewitness interviewed by the FBI had seen the Israelis’ van in the parking lot as early as 8:00 a.m. that day, more than 40 minutes prior to the attack. The story received coverage in U.S. mainstream media at the time but has since been largely forgotten.
The men — Sivan Kurzberg, Paul Kurzberg, Oded Ellner, Yaron Shimuel and Omar Marmari — were subsequently apprehended by law enforcement and claimed to be Israeli tourists on a “working holiday” in the United States where they were employed by a moving company, Urban Moving Systems. Upon his arrest, Sivan Kurzberg told the arresting officer, “We are Israeli; we are not your problem. Your problems are our problems, The Palestinians are the problem.”
For years, the official story has been that these individuals, while they had engaged in “immature” behavior by celebrating and being “visibly happy” in their documenting of the attacks, had no prior knowledge of the attack. However, newly released FBI copies of the photos taken by the five Israelis strongly suggest that these individuals had prior knowledge of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The copies of the photos were obtained via a FOIA request made by a private citizen.
Israeli Mossad Very Likely Responsible For The 9/11 Attacks
by Ron Unz
9/11 Suspects: The Dancing Israelis
with James Corbett
Videos on “9/11-Dancing Israelis” Investigation
with Adam Green
Roaming Charges: Slouching Towards Tehran
by Jeffrey St. Clair
Police with battering ram raid Venezuelan Embassy in DC & arrest anti-coup activists
Bolton in Wonderland
Merkel Says Postwar Order Over, Calls on Europe to Unite in Face of US
John Bolton: the man driving the US towards war … any war
" Embassy Raided By Police & $21 Trillion Pentagon Fraud"
The AngloZionist Empire: a hyperpower with microbrains and no cred left
by The Saker
Last week saw what was supposed to be a hyperpower
point fingers for its embarrassing defeat not only at Venezuela, which
successfully defeated Uncle Shmuel’s coup plans, but
also at a list of other countries including Cuba, Russia, China and Iran. It’s
is rather pathetic and, frankly, bordering on the comically ridiculous.
Uncle Shmuel clearly did not appreciate being the laughingstock of the planet.
And as Uncle Shmuel always does, he decided to flex some muscle and show the world “who is boss” by…
But even that was too much for the MAGA Admin, so they also denied doing so (how lame is that!?)
Which did not prevent US activists of entering the embassy (legally, they were invited in and confirm it all).
Now the US Secret Service wants to evict the people inside the building.
So much for the CIA’s beloved “plausible deniability” which now has morphed into “comical deniability”.
If you think that all this sounds incredibly amateurish and stupid – you are 100% correct.
In the wonderful words of Sergei Lavrov, the US diplomats have “lost the taste for diplomacy“.
But that was not all.
In an act of incredible courage the USA, which was told (by the Israelis, of course!), that the Iranians were about to attack “somewhere”, so Uncle Shmuel sent two aircraft carrier strike groups to the Middle-East. In a “daring” operation, the brilliant USAF pilots B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf to “send a message” to the “Mollahs”: don’t f*ck with us or else…
The “Mollahs” apparently were unimpressed as they simply declared that “the US carriers were not a threat, only a target”.
Leaked OPCW Report: Douma Was Staged – Swiss Propaganda Research
Further Evidence US Attacked Syria Based on False Flag
by Tony Cartalucci
Smearing Syria's Victory
by Finian Cunningham
These 5 Submarines Could Start World War III (They Can Kill Billions in Minutes) | The National Interest
by TNI Staff
Iran tells Middle East militias: prepare for proxy war
by Martin Chulov
It’s Even More Terrible Than You Thought
Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair
by Paul Street
Liberal journalist and author David Cay Johnston, a frequent cable news commentator, was right to title his 2018 book on the Trump presidency “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America.” Trump is a creeping fascist train-wreck – an authoritarian disaster whose lawyer recently argued in federal court that Congress has no right to investigate wrongdoing by the President of the United States (take that, Watergate heroes and Whitewater fans!).
But it’s even worse than Johnston and his admiring CNN and MSNBC interviewers and co-panelists want us to know. The Democrats were neoliberal partners in Trump’s ascent; now they seem determined to ensure the second term of a presidency that could ring the death knell for what’s left of U.S.-American democracy. Loathe to impeach the impeachment-worthy Trump since they think (correctly perhaps) that action would enhance his chances for re-election in 2020, establishment Democrats are working hard again, as in 2015-16, to undermine the presidential candidacy of the Democratic contender who is most able and ready to rally the disadvantaged constituencies who will have to turn out if the orange monster is going to be removed by ballot in 2020.
That candidate is the neo-New Deal progressive-populist Bernie Sanders. He is the target of a multi-pronged “Stop Sanders” movement within the Democratic Party and across its many establishment media and non-profit outposts. This reactionary operation includes at least ten related lines of attack:
“Artificial Intelligence: it will kill us”
with Jay Tuck
Complaint against Cambridge Analytica
"The Death of Facebook | How Social Media Ripped Apart a Generation"
The U.S. Has Been Eclipsed in Every Sphere But War
by Glen Ford
Seattle Is Dying: Drugs And Homelessness In Seattle
with Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson explores the impact the drug and homelessness problem is having on our city and possible solutions in "Seattle is Dying."
"This story is about a wave of seething anger that is now boiling over into outrage. It is about people who have felt compassion, yes, but who no longer feel safe."
Washington and Wall Street wake up to the reality that Beijing is happy to walk away
U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators in happier days in March, when a deal looked certain.
As Wall Street reels from the shock of a trade war exploding to new heights in the form of tariffs and counter tariffs, there’s another reality that is setting in — that China seems happy to walk away from trade talks.
That’s the upshot after China first rolled back some concessions — prompting a new escalation in tariffs — and then showed up to Washington without any other compromises.
“Until a week ago, it looked likely that a far-reaching trade deal would be struck between the U.S. and China within a matter of weeks. But negotiations hit a severe impasse, as the U.S. side accused the Chinese side of having reneged on key concessions,” said Stephen Gallagher, U.S. chief economist at Societe Generale, in a note to clients.
Whether Beijing has miscalculated or not, China’s policy makers are betting that they can absorb a blow to the nearly $400 billion of exports that the country, on net, sells to the U.S. each year.
“Between loose credit and loose fiscal policy, China did rebalance away from exports,” said Brad Setser, senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations.
According to World Bank estimates, consumption in China last year contributed 4.6 percentage points to growth, up from 3.6 points in 2013. Investment, meanwhile, declined to 2.3 points in 2018 from 4.3 percentage points in 2013.
Apart from an usually strong March, industrial production in China has slowed markedly as well.
From: Mark Crispin Miller
Sent: Thursday, May 16, 2019
Subject: [MCM] Now it can be told (if anyone will listen): That "chemical attack" in Syria last year was STAGED, to justify more war against Assad (MUST-READ)
My friends in the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media have struck a major blow for peace (some day),
and for the truth (today), by publicizing, and deftly analyzing, the OPCW's suppressed assessment of last year's
"chemical attack" in Douma.
From Caitlin Johnstone's article in Consortium News:
“It is hard to overstate the significance of this revelation,” tweets former British MP George Galloway of a new report by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM). “The war-machine has now been caught red-handed in a staged chemical weapons attack for the purposes of deceiving our democracies into what could have turned into a full-scale war amongst the great-powers.”
“An important #Douma #Syria ‘Assad chemical weapon attack’ development and yet more evidence to suggest the ‘attack’ was staged, as it’s now revealed that @OPCW suppressed expert engineers report that found the cylinders were likely not dropped from the air,” tweets former Scotland Yard detective and counterterrorism intelligence officer Charles Shoebridge.
“The engineering assessment confirms our earlier conclusion,” the excellent Moon of Alabama blog writes. “The whole scene as depicted by ‘rebels’ and propaganda organs was staged. The more than 34 dead on the scene were murdered elsewhere under unknown circumstances.”
Click on the link for the rest:
Here is the report:
Assessment by the engineering sub-team of the OCPW Fact-
Finding Mission investigating the alleged chemical attack in
Douma in April 2018
by Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Piers Robinson
Members of Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media
· 2.1 Methodology
· 2.2 Results: Location 2
· 2.3 Results: Location 4
· 2.4 Conclusions of the Engineering Assessment
In our Briefing note on the Final Report of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission on the Douma incident, we noted that the FFM had sought assessments in October 2018 from unidentified engineering experts on the “the trajectory and damage to the cylinders found at Locations 2 and 4”. The Final Report provided no explanation for why the FFM had not sought engineering assessments in April 2018, when the experts could have inspected the sites with cylinders in position, rather than six months later when inspection of the sites with cylinders in position was no longer possible and the assessments had to rely on images and measurements obtained by others. We raised this as an obvious anomaly.
OPCW staff members have communicated with the Working Group. We have learned that an investigation was undertaken by an engineering sub-team of the FFM, beginning with on-site inspections in April-May 2018, followed by a detailed engineering analysis including collaboration on computer modelling studies with two European universities. The report of this investigation was excluded from the published Final Report of the Fact-Finding Mission, which referred only to assessments sought from unidentified “engineering experts” commissioned in October 2018 and obtained in December 2018.
A copy of a 15-page Executive Summary of this report with the title “Engineering Assessment of two cylinders observed at the Douma incident” has been passed to us and we have posted it here. Please download and share this document via your own server if you link to it, so as not to overload our server.
We are studying this document, and encourage others with relevant expertise to contribute. We provide some initial comments below:
A Business Model From Hell and the War in Yemen
by Mashal Hashem & James Allen
The Tariff Issue
by Paul Craig Roberts
The Hell We've Unleashed on Yemen
by Mashal Hashem and James Allen
Iran’s Man in Iraq: “America is Not the Old America.
It is Weaker Than Ever.”
by Robert Fisk
“US fails to get international support for Iran policy”
“What exactly is the threat of Iran?
When Rest of World Agrees It's the U.S.?”
with Noam Chomsky
“Trump boxed in on Iran,
as Putin holds key to prevent war in Persian Gulf”
"Venezuela, China, North Korea, Iran:
What In The World Is Going On?"
Freedom Rider: U.S. Wages War Against the World
by Margaret Kimberley
White House reviews military plans against Iran:
New York Times
“Col. Wilkerson: US Would Face a Unified Venezuelan Military
in an Armed Intervention”
History’s Dire Warning:
Beware False-Flag Trigger for Long-Sought War with Iran
Trump Is Being Set-up for War with Iran
by Paul Craig Roberts
A Persian Gulf of Tonkin?
by Liz Sly
Pandering to Israel Means War With Iran
by Philip Giraldi
Iran Squeezed Between Imperial Psychos and European Cowards
by Pepe Escobar
A U.S. Attack on Iran Would Be “Biggest Mistake It Has Ever Made”
with Arundhati Roy
Ookla 5G Map - Tracking 5G Network Rollouts Around the World
“Prof. Noam Chomsky on "one of the most astonishing documents ever produced in human history" & more”
U.S. Special Forces School Publishes New Guide for Overthrowing Foreign Governments
by Tom O'Connor
Who is Our “Adversary”? A Question of Language
by Richard E. Rubenstein
There’s a new word in town, folks – or rather an old word with a new meaning. It has become the fashion among politicians and journalists to describe nations like Russia, China, and Iran, and leaders like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Ali Khamenei, as “adversaries.” This is a term that gives me the creeps both because of what it says and what it hides.
According to Webster-Merriam, adversary is another word for “an enemy or opponent,” but in today’s parlance it has become a blurry euphemism. Russia and China are called adversaries by people who loathe and fear these governments, but who consider it crude, impolitic, and possibly dangerous to label them enemies. You go to war with enemies. But what if you want to trade with them? What if you want to trade with them and attack them, using methods short of bombs and bullets?
“Adversary” provides an answer by introducing a note – actually, a whole symphonic score – of ambiguity. The Oxford Dictionary tells us that the word means “one’s opponent in a contest, conflict, or dispute.” This is how an anti-Russian (or anti-Chinese, anti-Iranian, or anti-Anyone) critic can have his cake while eating it too. The phrase “Russian adversary” conjures up a dangerous, long-lived and malicious enemy, reminding us that the term’s secondary meaning is “Satan; the Devil.” If challenged, however, the phrasemaker can always say, “I only meant that they are our opponents in a dispute. You know, like business competitors.”
Such a convenient blur! Since the opponent is an adversary, not necessarily an enemy, it’s ok to trade and negotiate with him instead of going to war. But, since he is an opponent, and therefore assumed to be “hostile” (another current buzzword), it’s also ok to punish him using such measures as economic sanctions, cyber-warfare, and covert activities.
The great expert on this sort of calculated linguistic sloppiness, of course, was George Orwell, the celebrated author of Homage to Catalonia, Animal Farm, and 1984. Here is what he said about ambiguity in “Politics and the English Language” (1946):
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.
In the case of words like adversary, “sheer cloudy vagueness” puts the matter too mildly. “Adversary” suggests more than temporary opposition or friendly competition. It is an epithet designed to make you clench your fists, even if you don’t throw the first punch. So, what happens if you don’t go along with someone who uses the word? Consider this Q & A:
Q: Wait a minute. Why do you call Russia (or China, or Iran) an adversary?
A: Because the Russians interfered in our election. Also, they annexed Crimea, helped keep Syria’s Assad in power, and support Ukrainian separatists. (Alternatively, because the Chinese steal industrial secrets, the Iranians back armed groups like Hezbollah, and so forth.)
Q: But nation-states do this sort of thing all the time – the United States most of all! For example, the Israelis, Saudis, and Americans spy on each other and interfere in each other’s domestic affairs nonstop. They also do violent things of which other states strongly disapprove. Yet we don’t call Israel and Saudi Arabia adversaries. We call them allies!
A: Well, the Saudis and Israelis are allies. They do not threaten U.S. power and global interests as the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians do. They do not promote anti-democratic, anti-American ideologies. And they do not have a history of hostility to the United States of America.
Now we begin to detect some of the real reasons for labeling another nation or people an adversary – but the answers given above require a bit of translation.
Hospital Workers in Toledo, Ohio,
Strike for Safe Patient Care
by Roland Reed,
Drivers Beware: The Deadly Perils of Traffic Stops
in the American Police State
by John W. Whitehead
"The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official. The framers would be appalled.”—Herman Schwartz, The Nation
We’ve all been there before.
You’re driving along and you see a pair of flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror. Whether or not you’ve done anything wrong, you get a sinking feeling in your stomach.
You’ve read enough news stories, seen enough headlines, and lived in the American police state long enough to be anxious about any encounter with a cop that takes place on the side of the road.
For better or worse, from the moment you’re pulled over, you’re at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect.”
This is what I call “blank check policing,” in which the police get to call all of the shots.
So if you’re nervous about traffic stops, you have every reason to be.
Trying to predict the outcome of any encounter with the police is a bit like playing Russian roulette: most of the time you will emerge relatively unscathed, although decidedly poorer and less secure about your rights, but there’s always the chance that an encounter will turn deadly.
Try to assert your right to merely ask a question during a traffic stop and see how far it gets you.
Zachary Noel was tasered by police and charged with resisting arrest after he questioned why he was being ordered out of his truck during a traffic stop. “Because I’m telling you to,” the officer replied before repeating his order for Noel to get out of the vehicle and then, without warning, shooting him with a taser through the open window.
Unfortunately, as Gregory Tucker learned the hard way, there are no longer any fail-safe rules of engagement for interacting with the police.
Trump’s Soft Cop-Hard Cop Routine on Iran
by Finian Cunningham
President Trump this week took a surprising turn by emphatically insisting that the US does not want war with Iran, dialing back mounting global fears that the two nations were on the cusp of all-out conflict.
Trump also in the same vein called for the Iranian leadership to enter into diplomatic negotiations.
The latest move by the US president appears to be a stark rebuke to his national security adviser John Bolton, who only last week had threatened Tehran with “unrelenting force” over vague intelligence claims that Iran was about to attack American interests in the Middle East. Bolton had announced the dispatch of an aircraft carrier strike group and nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf in a show of muscle-flexing towards Iran.
With subsequent incidents of alleged sabotage against oil tankers in the Gulf as well as Saudi claims of Iran directing drone attacks from Yemen on its petroleum plants, the situation looked like a powder keg ready to explode.
In stepped Donald Trump who reportedly admonished Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to tamp down talk of war and regime change in Tehran. Bolton and Pompeo are the most hawkish members of the White House cabinet, who in the recent past have urged air strikes on Iran and vilified the Iranian leadership as a “corrupt dictatorship”.
A prefiguring of Trump’s belated softening of White House tone was seen with Pompeo’s visit to Russia this week. During his meetings with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the American diplomat assured that “the US is not fundamentally seeking a war with Iran”.
That assurance is a bit hard to take from Pompeo given the relentless hostility from the Trump administration over past year from when the White House scrapped its participation in the 2015 internationally agreed nuclear accord with Iran. The administration has since re-imposed harsh economic sanctions on Tehran with the belligerently stated aim to “reduce Iranian oil exports to zero”.
states avoid culpability for war crimes
by Robert Fisk
There are parallels between the sudden growth of the warped mindset which proposes to exonerate murderers before they commit their crime and historically murderous military regimes
When is a war crime not a war crime? When it’s committed by us, of course.
But this truism is taking on a new and sinister meaning today – and not just because Trump and his crackpots may be planning another clutch of atrocities in the Middle East.
For there is now a dangerous slippage becoming apparent in which western states are more ready than ever to countenance military crimes against humanity, to accept them, approve of them and to expect us to connive at these gross and sickening breaches of international law.
I’m not just talking about the pathetic and grotesque behaviour of our latest minister of defence’s “amnesty on historical prosecutions” – which means we can murder Iraqis and Afghans and get away with it, but must be a bit more restrained in Northern Ireland. Not much more restrained, mind you, for just look at the snapping young Tory elites and the desiccated ex-generals who are yelping to extend this kill-by-permission to those who have killed British citizens in Belfast and Derry.
Not only is this an insult to the humanity of Irish men and women in Northern Ireland who happen to have British citizenship; it is also placing them in a limbo-world between brown-eyed Muslims in the Middle East who can be forgotten 10 years after they have been liquidated, and blue-eyed Brits, whose murder would have squads of policemen and anti-terror squads racing through the streets of the nation to hunt down and bring to justice their killers.
It’s not just a difference between the DNA of our victims, of course. It’s that word “historical”. For what Penny Mordaunt and her roughnecks are proposing is a statute of limitations on war crimes – something which thousands of ex-Nazis sought and prayed for after the Second World War.
No, British army soldiers are not Nazis, the US marines are not the Wehrmacht, the RAF and the USAF are not the Luftwaffe (although we might have to lay aside Hamburg and Dresden here). I am talking about parallels, not comparisons, about the sudden growth of a dangerous and warped mindset which proposes to exonerate murderers before they commit their crime.
But let’s move away from Britain’s tawdry struggle in the northeast of Ireland, albeit that many Brexiteers are quite prepared to return to it. Instead, let’s cross the Atlantic to the larger lunatic asylum in Washington where Trump has just awarded a full pardon to US army first lieutenant Michael Behenna.
He murdered an Iraqi man called Ali Mansur on 16 May 2008. Behenna was ordered to drive Mansur back to his home after he had been interrogated by US intelligence operatives about the killing of two American soldiers in a roadside bombing. They found no evidence of his guilt. But Behenna drove his prisoner into the desert, stripped him, interrogated him again at gunpoint and then shot him in the head and chest. The case was straightforward – or so you might think. Behenna was convicted of unpremeditated murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
But then the US justice department reduced his sentence from 25 years to 15 years, and paroled him in 2014. Behenna was a model prisoner, admired by his friends in his native Oklahoma.
And just 10 days ago, Trump granted this army killer a full pardon. No surprise from Trump’s point of view, of course. He has said that “torture works” and believes that mass murder works too.
“The Power Principle: Corporate Empire and the Rise of the National Security State”
Documentary film, 2012
directed by Scott Noble
The Power Principle: Corporate Empire and the Rise of the National Security State (2012)
"A gripping, deeply informative account of the plunder, hypocrisy, and mass violence of plutocracy and empire; insightful, historically grounded and highly relevant to the events of today." - Michael Parenti, Historian, Author The Face of Imperialism
Part I - Empire
Introduction to the Empire; Iran – Oil and Geopolitics; Guatemala – the “merger
of state and corporate power”; The Congo – Neocolonialism; Grenada – “The Mafia
Doctrine”; Chile – “libertarianism with a small l"; Globalization:
1945: Grand Area Strategy; Fascism: a “rational system of the plutocracy”; Case Studies: the Greek Communists; The Italian Communists; the Spanish Anarchists; Fascism’s Western backers; Trading with the Enemy; Fascism as “preservation of civilization”; the Cold War and “A Century of Fear”.
Part II – Propaganda
Soviet Menace?; Case Studies: El Salvador, Nicaragua; Propaganda:
Self-Deception and blowback; The “International Communist Conspiracy”;
Declassified Documents; NSC 68; The Pentagon as Keynsian
Mechanism; The Military Industrial Complex; The War against the Third World;
Shifting rationales; What is imperialism?; Case Study: Haiti; “War is a
Fear-based conditioning - The War of the Worlds, The Triumph of the Will; World view Warfare; The Russians are coming; Television: The “perfect propaganda medium”; Soviet vs. American propaganda; Hollywood and the Pentagon; Psywarriors and the media; Operation Mockingbird; The Pentagon Pundits; Project Revere; The Bomber Gap; “scare the hell out of them”.
Part III – Apocalypse
Assured Destruction; MAD men - Curtis Lemay and the super hawks; MAD men -
Hermann Kahn and the Rand Corporation; Over flights as provocation; Cuba: the
“danger of a good example”; terrorism against Cuba; “Unconventional warfare”;
the Cuban Missile Crisis and the “man who saved the world”.
Why did the Soviet Union collapse?; Gorbachev: a “more violent, less stable world”; the Pentagon’s New Map; Did Ronald Reagan end the Cold War?; The Brink of Apocalypse: Able Archer; The betrayal of Russia; The expansion of NATO; Yugoslavia and Libya; the Yeltsin coup; Living standards in the former Soviet Union; A third way?
‘Clash of civilizations’ or crisis of civilization?
by Pepe Escobar
The outlook of current
Western leaders suggests that humanity will be hard pressed to survive the 21st
Talk about a graphic display of soft power: Beijing this week hosted the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations.
Organized under the direct supervision of President Xi Jinping it took place amid an “Asian Culture Carnival.” Sure, there were dubious, kitschy and syrupy overtones, but what really mattered was what Xi himself had to say to China and all of Asia.
In his keynote speech, the Chinese leader essentially stressed that one civilization forcing itself upon another is “foolish” and “disastrous.” In Xi’s concept of a dialogue of civilizations, he referred to the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as programs that “have expanded the channels for communication exchanges.”
Xi’s composure and rationality present a stark, contrasting message to US President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign.
West vs East and South
Compare and contrast Xi’s comments with what happened at a security forum in Washington just over two weeks earlier. Then, a bureaucrat by the name of Kiron Skinner, the State Department’s policy planning director, characterized US-China rivalry as a “clash of civilizations,” and “a fight with a really different civilization and ideology the US hasn’t had before.”
And it got worse. This civilization was “not Caucasian” – a not so subtle 21st century resurrection of the “Yellow Peril.” (Let us recall: The “not Caucasian” Japan of World War II was the original “Yellow Peril.”)